Turkmenistan conference highlights renewable energy, Russian partnerships

Turkmenistan’s 6th International Exhibition and Scientific Conference, "The Main Trends of Development of the Electric Power Industry of Turkmenistan 2013," held in the capital city of Ashgabat September 12-14, highlighted a wide range of energy issues, including new innovative technologies and the importance of renewable energy resources in Turkmenistan.

The conference drew some 60 companies from more than 15 countries, according to Turkmenistan’s state news agency TDH.

Energy sector experts from the United States, Russia, Iran, France, Turkey, Japan, the U.K., Germany, Kazakhstan, Belarus and other countries participated in the event, which was organized by the Turkmenistan Ministry of Energy and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce along with German event organizer Negus Messe Service.

In his address to the conference (read by a representative of the presidential palace), Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow praised the country’s energy sector workers, underscoring that Turkmenistan’s "vast energy resources serve the nation’s needs and significantly contribute to the Turkmen people’s higher standards of living."

The biggest names of the event included the General Electric, Alston, Turkey’s Calik Enerji, Germany’s Siemens, Japanese giant Sumitomo, South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering, U.K. oil and gas multinational Wood Group, Belgium’s ENEX Group, China’s TBEA and CTR from India.

GE and Calik recently announced plans to build three separate gas turbine plants in Turkmenistan, which is expected to provide 360 MW of electricity to the country by next year.

Most of the major international companies attending the conference "are successfully carrying out energy projects in Turkmenistan and are known for their outstanding performance both in their countries and Turkmenistan," the TDH report said, adding that Turkmenistan emphasized in particular "the productive cooperation with a number of Russian energy partners, whose presence in the exhibition was the largest."

Setjstroijservis, Diamech, Global Insulator, Elster Metronica and SverdlovElektro were among the biggest Russian companies at the energy event.

Turkmenistan, which boasts the world’s fifth-largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources, estimates its electric power production capacity at 4,151.7 MW, with 43.2% of it generated by the Central Asian country’s gas turbine power plants.

Turkmenistan has been taking tentative steps toward exploring the potential of alternative energy sources, including photovoltaics. It has an average annual solar irradiation intensity of 600 W per square meter, with sunshine lasting almost all year round — some 86% of the country is covered by desert.

Even though Turkmenistan is self-sufficient in electrical power generation, producing about 14 billion kilowatt hours annually, renewable energy is in demand in a number of localities, such as the Caspian islands, which are not connected to the country’s centralized electric power lines.

Turkmenistan’s Giun Scientific and Production Association, founded in 2007, has become a key player in the country’s alternative energy development plans. Giun’s research projects include the development of solar photovoltaics and integrated wind and solar power complexes, both for generating electricity and pumping water.